Friday, March 22, 2013

Doug Christie: The Truth Will Out (Part II)

Christie in his law kiosk
Not surprisingly, we've already been criticized for our focus on Doug Christie by our friends at Free Dominion, including what might be a veiled (and pretty ironic in light of their claim to be supporters of free speech) threat of, we suspect, future litigation for having the temerity to post and comment on what Christie himself published. But then this is all part of the whitewash of Doug Christie and his reinvention as a free speech hero who defended those who said or wrote quirky things about Jews and people of color. As a result, Christie has practically been deified while we and other Christie critics are vilified.

But then our Free Dominion friends might have a little bit of a problem. You see, while we are an easy target (they don't like us very much for some reason), it might be more difficult for them to vilify someone who leads an organization that recently hosted an event to raise funds in support Free Dominion (pictures here and here).

What does Meir Weinstein have to say about the passing of Doug Christie?

NOTE: While it might seem silly to black out the names of the other individual also involved in the conversation we decided that we would do so unless given permission to post his name here.

So why would the head of the Canadian branch of the JDL write, "let him rot in hell" regarding the passing of Doug Christie? Well, one thing we've noted here in covering JDL, the organization in general and Meir specifically, are pretty consistent when it comes to an understandable antipathy towards people who hold anti-Jewish or anti-Semetic views and who promote those views publicly.

Which brings us to the topic at hand. Was Christie, as Meir Weinstein appears to imply, deserving of such criticism?

BCL, in his account of Doug Christie's beliefs, posted the following missive which was written by Christie in his "Western Separatist Papers" newsletter which provides a not too subtle hint of Christie's views:

In the 20th century, in at least two great wars and a thousand other battles, Europeans have destroyed the best and elevated the worst over and over again, repeating in the macrocosm what I have seen in the microcosm. They have had bad leadership but they have followed it willingly to their doom. They may have regretted it but they submitted to their fate. What the third world could not build or destroy, they, the Europeans have destroyed themselves in fratricidal wars. What the weak, and whiner could not build or destroy the leadership have torn to shreds themselves while the people just go alone. We elevate to mythic status Churchill, the ally of Stalin and Roosevelt. We demonize Hitler. [emphasis added] We motivate millions to believe that the fratricidal war was justified by the holocause. [emphasis added] We elevate our fratricidal war to the status of an official religion, deviation from which demands universal, instant and complete vilification. For such a people, so embued [sic] with their sickness and love of sickness is their any hope? We make a compulsory state religion, the great holocause [emphasis added] museum, where children learn to hate their ancestors.

Besides believing that Adolf Hitler (yes, THAT Adolf Hitler) has been hard done by history, one can't help but notice how he refers to the Holocaust as the "holocause." Once could charitably be considered a spelling error, but twice? In the context of the what Christie was writing about (Holocaust education as, "state religion" intended to make presumably white children, "hate their ancestors"), such a missive wouldn't be out of place on Stormfront.

But we shouldn't get a head of ourselves here.

We'll start at what we think is the beginning. No, not the Keegstra trial. Not yet. Turns out Christie had made links with pretty infamous folks quite a bit earlier than even we had thought if David Duke's tribute to Christie can be believed:

The content of the tribute is also interesting:

David Duke circa mid 1970s
In the 1970s, David Duke was the leader of Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, the largest Klan organization in the United States at the time. While Christie's notoriety (aside from his involvement with Western separatism) began during the Keegstra trial, this indicates that his links to racist extremism began much earlier.

It also indicates that, at least in David Duke's view, that Christie might have been a fellow traveller.

Alone Duke's tribute to Christie wouldn't mean too much, but in a wider context, it does provide early evidence of Christie's views.

But as we noted, Christie really seemed to cut his teeth on the national stage as a result of his defence of Jim Keegstra. Keegstra, a former Alberta teacher fired for teaching his students that the Holocaust didn't happen and that Jews were responsible as a group for the evils of the world, was on trial accused of hate crimes. We'll provide some links in chronological order so that our readers can refresh their memories about the case as well as Christie's.... we shall say vigorous defence of Keegstra:

These articles paint a pretty damning portrait of Keegstra, but they also provide some insight into Christie. His treatment of Crown witnesses alone would cause some to view Christie in a negative light, as well as the line of defence he uses (and travelling with an anti-Semitic client to Germany wouldn't be our idea of a good time either). But it's the argument that Christie makes in appealing Keegstra's conviction that might result in some concern:

Premier had proof Keegstra was right
says Christie - The Phoenix, Apr 9, 1987
No matter how spirited a defence one wishes engage in on behalf of a client, we're not sure that, "there really IS a vast Jewish conspiracy to control the world" is an argument most lawyers would be willing to make in private, never mind in front of a judge in open court.

But did Christie believe this, or was it merely a poorly considered legal tactic? 

If the Keegstra trial put Christie on the map, the Zundel trial made him a celebrity and hero in certain circles (which also guaranteed him future work in those circles). We don't think we need to retell the story of the Zundel trial, but it might be instructive to note that Christie attempted to bar Jews from serving on the jury:

Judge rejects plea to bar Jews from Jury in anti-Semitic literature
case - The Montreal Gazette, Jan 10, 1985
One of the striking features of the trial was Christie's attacks on the credibility of Holocaust survivors called as witnesses. While perhaps vile in and of itself, it doesn't really prove that Christie himself believed the Holocaust revisionism of his client. But Christie himself confirms his affinity to Holocaust denial himself in a later interview:

Controversial cases cost Christie - The Calgary Herald, Mar 23, 1985
Christie repeats this claim 5 years later (in addition to suggesting the Nazis were justified in rounding up Jews) when he was interviewed during his defence of Malcolm Ross, another former teacher ultimately fired as a result of disseminating anti-Jewish revisionist history and perhaps making anti-Semitic statements in his class as claimed by a frighten 14 year old child while being berated by Christie on the witness stand:

Times-Colonist - Tuesday, Dec 18, 1990
All this evidence is pretty damning, however there is more.

In 1991, Christie was invited by the Australian League of Rights to speak at their national seminar in Melbourne:

While the name Australian League of Rights might suggest some sort of civil liberties organization, it is in fact a far-right and anti-Semitic organization:

Interesting choice for an international speaking engagement.

So, what did Christie talk about?

Oh, the vast, world-wide, Zionist conspiracy:

The Australian Jewish News Melbourne Edition - Friday, Oct 18, 1991
The Australian Jewish News Sydney Edition - Oct 18, 1991
The Jewish Western Bulletin - Oct 31, 1991 (1)
The Jewish Western Bulletin - Oct 31, 1991 (2)
Eventually, Christie's behaviour before the courts, particularly statements made during the Imre Finta war crimes trial, resulted in a number of complaints such as this:

Christie called the war crimes law convoluted and diabolical and invited jurors to "stop" it. He suggested jurors might be put on trial in 45 years for persecuting Finta.

On Thursday, Christie defended himself by saying he had argued Finta had no choice in 1944 but to follow military orders and round up Jews in an area about 100 kilometres from the Russian front.

For Hungary - a German ally - it was a legitimate exercise for state security in a battle zone, said Christie.


Would he have to know he was committing a war crime or merely that he was acting illegally? Could he use the excuse that he honestly believed he was obeying the law?

Christie said a great danger for Finta is that what a jury sees as wrong today "may not have been seen as wrong at all by the people of Hungary in 1944 who were faced with imminent invasion and saw the Jews as a subversive and dangerous group who threatened the lives of all."

Christie called the war crimes law vague, arbitrary and too sweeping and said it wrongly removes an accused's right to use the defence that he was merely following military orders.

But Amerasing he said if an accused can say he was just following orders, "you'd never be able to prosecute anything in this country related to war crimes."

And while he was ultimately not disciplined, the disciplinary committee of the Law Society of Upper Canada made it pretty clear where they felt Christie's loyalties were with:

This brings us to Garry Botting.

As a result of his testimony during the Zundel trial, Garry Botting was the recipient of the George Orwell Free Speech Award in 1986, a recognition given to Botting through Christie's Canadian Free Speech League. A decade later, Botting disavowed his association with Christie as well as the award which he returned. He provided his reasons:

Mr. Douglas Christie
810 Coutney St,
Victoria, B.C.
April 19, 1996

Dear Sir,

Re: The Canadian Free Speech League and The George Orwell Free Speech Award 

As I mentioned in my letter you regarding Ernst Zundel, it is clear to me that your Canadian Free Speech League is merely a front for an anti-semitic, Pro-Nazi agenda. I have little doubt, in retrospect, that this has always been the case. Your organization is authoritarian and not in the least open to free speech: I sincerely doubt that you know what free speech really means. Certainly it does not appear to mean to you what it means to me, namely, a liberal marketplace of ideas where a variety of opinions are aired without fear of censure.

Gary Botting returning George
Orwell award to Christie's
law kiosk

In the Canadian Free Speech League, the only opinions truly allowed are those which conform to your own. And those opinions, as you well know, are antisemitic and almost blatantly pro-Nazi. It is no coincidence that both you and Ernst Zundel usually celebrate your birthdays on April 20, Hitler's Birthday. It is no coincidence that most of the Canadian Free Speech League annual awards ceremonies have been held as close to that date as possible.

This connection with Nazism is in itself a travesty of free speech. To link the name of George Orwell with a pro-Nazi agenda is a travesty, for George Orwell was as outspoken against Nazism and antisemitism as any public voice in the second world war.

The award is also a travesty, in retrospect, to my own integrity as an individual who in 1985 genuinely if naively fought for the right for free speech. The George Orwell Free Speech award was presented to me by you in 1986 for "outstanding courage in challenging censorship and historical orthodoxy". If I showed courage , I now realize that it was misplaced and misdirected. Believe me, it takes more courage to admit that I was duped ten years ago.

Accordingly, I am returning the 1986 George Orwell Free Speech Award to you as Counsel of the Canadian Free Speech League. 

Gary Botting, Barrister

Now, some of our critics might choose to ignore the evidence we've presented (and there is more that we could have included). Others might accept it, but then argue that Christie's views are not the issue. What is at issue is his steadfast support for freedom of expression. 

This begs the question whether the belief in Doug Christie's free speech credentials are actually warranted:

Times-Colonist - Saturday, Aug 16, 1986
We'll cover this in the next article.

1 comment:

Harry Abrams said...

Just luvin' it! Fabulous job of research and chronological order. Just to clarify one significant point.

David Duke's glowing eulogy was very explicit. He indicated that he and Christie were friends, and that Christie had tried to help him since the mid 1970's. Keegstra, Christie first notable hate expression defense case, did not commence until about 1984-85, so the Duke/Christie relationship pre-dated Christie's free speech crusade fully by 9-10 years. David Duke was no "little guy" either. The Wikipedia entry for Duke specifically indicated that Duke was pioneering a then - new concept for the KKK,

"...Duke first received broad public attention during this time, as he endeavored to market himself in the mid-1970s as a new brand of Klansman: well-groomed, engaged, and professional. Duke also reformed the organization, promoting nonviolence and legality, and, for the first time in the Klan's history, women were accepted as equal members and Catholics were encouraged to apply for membership. Duke would repeatedly insist that the Klan was "not anti-black", but rather "pro-white" and "pro-Christian...."

It is my personal opinion, that Christie admired and emulated this approach. Also, I think it's quietly telling, too, that Mr. Christie kept that framed picture of Southern US Confederate leader Robert E. Lee behind his desk for so many years as inspiration.